Happy New Year!
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There is no Multiverse, but there are multiple versions of you. Throughout your Life, within every person that’s been close with you, lives a version of you from that time period. Every version is different, and they culminate into the person you are in this moment. After I suffered a debilitating stroke, I wanted the versions of myself that lived in my friends minds to be what existed in the current physical realm. Therefore, I actually hid from some people, preferring to be the version that they remembered over the version of me that is. This sentiment crossed my mind again more recently upon the impending reunion with a long time friend. However, I pushed those notions away in favor of anticipation. Where I once wanted to stay hidden away in favor of a memory was no more. Because, I’ve realized staying stuck as the same version in someone’s mind correlates to being stuck in the here and now. There is no growth in that. Besides, with the right person you won’t be afraid to be yourself. Even if I was in a wheelchair, they could see me walking. Even though my left side may be currently paralyzed, they could see me moving fluidly. In fact, whatever the current physical reality was, they would see me. And, just the same, I would see them! That’s the beauty of knowing. It’s not that we have the ability to recall a preferred version of each other, but rather that we can see each other through whatever version we are currently inhabiting. The ability to do this with one another is not only true authenticity, but it’s what creates a safe place. It is a space in which we can be messy. A place in which we can be vulnerable. A place in which we can truly share a laugh. Furthermore, one in which, failure is okay and successes are celebrated. My wish is not to be an old version of myself that is remembered by someone, but to be brave enough to shatter that memory and replace it with who I am today. More importantly I hope to always have people in my Life that I can do that with, and I hope you do too!
No one is brought up in this World and taught that Life is difficult from a young age. Rather we all seem to come to that belief later in Life! I used to wonder why after about age thirty ,it seemed that for most people there was a problematic decline in their level of optimism. Therefore, I vowed at an early age never to lose my child like wonder or become a cranky elderly person. Rather, I wanted to hold onto my optimistic view, youthful vigor, and appreciation for the small things. I’m actually proud to report that I’ve managed thus far to uphold my youthful promise to myself. It certainly hasn’t been of a conscious effort. Rather, I owe it to my natural disposition, sub conscious mind, and of all things a near death experience. While I’m admittedly not thankful for the vast number of physical difficulties(painful ones too) I have come to realize that there has been an immense strengthening during those stretches of time. In a way time stopped for me on October 12th, 2012 when I unexpectedly suffered a massive stroke. After that point, my plans for ages 28 and 29, were taken on an extended detour. I struggled to bridge the gap and maintain things for awhile, but- as Dylan sings “The times they are a changin,” and that’s okay. Because there is good news rolled into the bad news of that reality. It meant, my suffering(and yours) would not last forever, just as the good times don’t last forever. Although my plight could’ve led to imminent disaster, quite the opposite occurred. I found those cliche’ sayings to ring true. It really is the darkest before the dawn! For me it was a slow dawning to the realization that, in what I once saw as a complete loss, was actually a complete gain! A gain of time rather than the loss of it. A gain of appreciation for beauty rather than the ignorance of the beauty Life holds. Most importantly, a leap in wisdom that usually only old age or tough trials can bring. I don’t claim to know it all, quite the opposite. -but- I do know that if you look closely at the trials in your own Life, you’ll find the strength to overcome rather than be overcome.
” Somewhere between living and dreaming. there’s New York.” -unknown.
To love this bustling city full of skyscrapers whose lights mingle with the sky, turning into stars of their own is to love yourself. The city will test your strength, test your resolve, and give new meaning to manifest destiny. Rent isn’t too expensive, it’s simply the admission price you pay for a ticket to the best ride of your Life. This “town,” will present you with hurdles to access the most ordinary of activities, and then reward you with inumerable opportunities. The streets have worn down the rubber soles of my shoes like hungry children eating cake at a birthday party. It is not so much a glamorous life here, as it is a rewarding one. The apartments overflow with interesting individuals, that possess all levels of potential. However, there is no vacancy for mediocrity! If there is a diamond to be produced from a lump of coal, New York City will squeeze it out of you. If you’re open and willing you’ll climb the ladder in an upward direction. Here there aren’t streets of identical little box homes with cars in the driveway, and manicured lawns. Instead, everything is jumbled, different, and there’s a subway entrance that can take you around more than 665 miles of track. Laid end to end the Transit train tracks would stretch to Chicago. Riding a subway train opens up more opportunity to you than any car ride you could ever take around an identical block of houses! You see, there’s no special club you must join to live here. One only needs a heaping helping of ambition. If you find the prospect of getting groceries, washing laundry, or a trip to the Post Office becoming more arduous too much to bear, I’d be quick to point out that just as the mundane becomes ever more so, the same can be said of enjoyable activities. Suddenly there are oodles of openings in your chosen career field, leisurely and cultural events are within walking distance, and they happen frequently, often even for free. If you’re a person that can see openings where others only see closed doors, this place is for you. I don’t love New York for its image or even for the food, but for what it has contributed to my Life. I’ve learned that hitting the pavement, talking to everyone, and binge willing to hustle harder than everyone else, means your reward will be greater than what everyone else is getting. If you allow it to be, the city will be the stone that sharpens you. So, I’d suggest wherever you are don’t be afraid to put yourself in the uncomfortable position to be sharpened. However, it’s something that will happen a lot faster in New York City!
This is a tale of four people(although imagined) with four separate lives that somehow streamed into one river, before branching off into different directions. It’s funny how a complete stranger wrote a show that so often mirrors the spirit (and content) of my Life in New York City as a 20’s something Girl. Discovering not only what the five Boroughs of New York could offer me during my burgeoning Adulthood, but navigating the sometimes complicated relationships too! Just as a comet speeds through space colliding with other objects and leaving pieces of itself behind, so do we as people. Each relationship, meaningful interaction, successes, and failures have either built me up or broke me down. However, unlike Hannah Horvath, I never got to have a “goodbye tour,” of my Life and neighborhood in New York. Rather I fast forwarded through what I expected to be my fourth year in the city; instead waking up in a rehab hospital in Michigan. Which, needless to say was a shock to my system. Not fully grasping what had happened to me( I was unconscious for most of it after all) I just wanted to be back in New York. A place where completing even the most mundane or trivial of tasks, makes you feel like a champion. A place that is as difficult to succeed in, as the concrete is hard. I chose to live there, for it’s electric energy, for the massive amounts of opportunities, and to fulfill my teenage dream. As a fresh out of college 25 year old graduate it was the perfect place for me. Why? Because as I navigate stroke recovery and Life after a near Death experience, New York gave me guts. Not the kind you see in a horror movie, but real guts. The kind that helps you to fake it til’ you make it and go after what you want with no apologies. Do you find that behavior rude? Ladder climbing? Well, that’s just Life in the city babe. Where I once cursed the contrast of the Michigan trees to skyscrapers, the suburban sprawl to city streets, and the slow pace to the city’s efficiency; now I am thankful for it. Just as I found myself in NY at the right time and place, my recovery is happening at the right time and in the right place as well. I have run long and hard, but now it’s time to learn how to walk again.
“Life is not important, except in the impact it has on other lives,”
Just as a minuscule drop of water falling into a pond creates a ripple that expands out until we can no longer see it; so do our lives in the oceanic universe. You may not be able to see how far reaching your actions are, but for every action there is a reaction. That being said, if your action is one of kindness, then the reaction you receive will be equally kind! It also serves to note, that people remember acts of grandeur no matter how small. One such act was made by a dog named Hachiko in the 1930s for His owner Hidesaburo Ueno. This tiny soul waited for nine years(that’s 3,285 days of His life) for His owner to return home from work. Today, a small bronze statue stands in remembrance of this story outside of the busy train station where this dog left so much of His love behind. How many people per day scurry past this unassuming statue without ever knowing the enormity of the story behind it? How many people or places have you scurried by without ever knowing their significance? Furthermore, how many people have not acknowledged your significance? Do you reckon, that if we could all slow down enough to actually see these things, Life would become more meaningful? Or perhaps, recognizing these things to be true, we’d discover increased value for and endeavor to create a better Life? One, that does not revolve on what we can get, but rather give. No matter how much I have supposedly given away, it has come back to me ten fold! A little known universal secret is that nothing you give away is ever truly lost. In fact, if you give with a heart of joy and gratitude you’re more likely to get it back and then some. Our society is entirely too focused on what we can get, or we get to keep. However, I have personally observed and experienced the opposite to be true. I have no qualms about “giving away,” money I don’t have, or extra time to volunteer; because it always comes back to me. If you don’t know already my Life itself was given back to me, and in many ways I’m living a second life! Rather than dying from a massive stroke in 2012 at the age of 28, I survived to continue on. Therefore, I’ve already been given more time, more money, and abundance. And I challenge you to share some of your abundance. Because, I promise if you slow down enough to look for it in your Life you will find it.
“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”
While at one time I only needed you to be cute, have a reasonable amount of knowledge about punk music, know how to skateboard, and have cool hair…… As Bob Dylan sings(not punk) “The times they are -a- changin.” These days I actually care about things like integrity, employment, your moral compass, and our shared future prospects. If you don’t know already(or yet) I had a stroke, and besides time changing things, so does almost dying. I’ve always put in a vast amount of effort to reach my goals and stroke recovery has been no different. Except(I lied) one thing has. Besides undergoing an arduous amounts of therapy, I’ve mirrored my physical development with meaningful growth of my soul. Neither has been easily achieved. Therefore, I’m not willing to put the priceless fruits of my labor(or my heart) into just anyones hands. So, I need you to step up. Reject me if you will over the effects the stroke has had on my life(this has already happened) but you’d be making an egregious mistake. This is in no way because I think I’m better than other people. It’s because I know my value. Although, much of it was robbed from me upon waking up in a hospital, the years have added it back and then some. Perhaps it’s age, time, or snobbery, I know it is wisdom! Far too many people(me too) undervalue themselves. We look into the mirror of society, and a distorted image stares back at us. The truth is, we are powerful, beautiful, and strong beings capable of ever expanding knowledge. Nothing is fixed, something I once wished wasn’t true, but am now grateful for it. Change means we can grow, progress can be made, and it makes Life precious. Mine, yours, everyones. The bottom line is, if you can be half as wonderful as my beloved dog Goose, I think we’ll be fine.
“My favorite driver is always either the bad guy or the underdog.” -Bo Jackson.
John Colone has always been in on the joke. In fact, most likely He orchestrated it. Hell, Michigan has not only been the catalyst for many events, and caused some local controversies, but it’s also a place that champions the underdog. Wayward travelers, misfits, survivors, and tourists from all over the world visit this tiny town. There is not only an atmosphere of mischief, but of acceptance. Have crazy colored hair? Welcome. Physically disabled? Welcome. A massive stroke survivor? Welcome. All are welcome, and if you are a misfit of society, all the better. This is because, not only is there no discrimination in the town of Hell, they understand survivors. The struggle is real, and many who populate this place, from tourists to “Hellbillies.” get it. The attitude is refreshing and not often found outside of the borders of Hell. Imagine a place where you are given a chance to do something different, to be who you are, and to succeed. Well, then maybe you should get a job in town, I just did! Yup. After spending countless hours putting my efforts into finding employment the traditional way, at the usual places….. All I had to do was go down the street! Because right around the corner from me, is Hell. Michigan. I considered secretary positions, jobs related to my field of expertise(medical) and technological jobs. However, I ultimately landed in the place I need to be at this time. You know the saying “If you build it they will come?” Well, John built a town based on a punchline and over the years Good Morning America has passed through, Netflix, The Travel Channel, and even Sundance. I suspect all the attention is the result of more than a funny name. Because, just like the charm of a stranger or honey to a bee, Hell has a natural magnetism. An energy that can be better understood if you spend any length of time here. Even more so if you meet the man behind the curtain. If you’d like to check it out more visit http://www.gotohellmi.com or drop by in person and say Hello. Perhaps, I’ll see you there!
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